Safety First When Harvesting Pallet Wood

Posted by Brett McCutcheon on Oct 16, 2021 9:15:00 AM

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If you’re a builder, then you probably have a collection of shipping pallets and crates taking up space somewhere in your warehouse or staging area. They come with many of the products you use regularly, like bags of concrete, cement blocks, construction materials and so on. Have you ever thought about what you are going to do with all of them? The wood can be harvested for reuse in a variety of ways. You can create a compost holder, or harvest the wood and sell it for a low price to hobbyists who love the rustic look of pallet wood for many different projects.

Harvesting that wood can pose a couple of dangers, though. That’s why we’ve got a few safety tips to help you get the job done quick, easy and safe.

  1. Wear Gloves

Gloves are essential for handling pallets, especially if you’re doing the work of taking them apart. They’re usually made with low-grade rough-sawn wood, which means they’re quite splintery. Without gloves, getting a few splinters driven into your hands is almost certain, so make sure to choose a good set of heavy gloves to keep your hands safe.

  1. Safety Glasses

Safety glasses are another necessity. Once you start taking pallets apart, they’ll guard against the occasional splinter that comes toward your face. It may seem like an overabundance of caution, but if you’ve got a couple dozen pallets to take apart, flying splinters will happen at some point!

  1. Check for Bent Nails

Before you dig into each pallet, give it a quick once-over to see if any of the nails holding it together have been driven completely through the wood. Sometimes you’ll find the points hammered over flat against the wood—and that’ll make it tough to get the pallet apart with a nail bar and hammer. Use your nail bar to straighten the nail for removal, and if you can’t straighten it enough, then use a reciprocating saw or bolt cutters to snip it off flush with the wood.

  1. Use a Pry Bar and Hammer

You could simply saw pallets down into more manageable chunks using a reciprocating saw. But it’s almost as easy and much safer to use a pry bar or nail bar and hammer to do the job. You’ll end up with more harvestable wood that you can repurpose or sell, and it’ll be easier to collect all the nails so that they don’t end up in someone’s tires—or your feet.

  1. Nail Side Down

As you pry boards loose, you’ll end up with a collection of them that have nails sticking through, which you’ll need to hammer out later. In the meantime, wherever you’re stacking the lumber, lay the lumber down so that those nails are pointed toward the ground. This prevents a nail in the foot should somebody happen to step on the lumber without watching for nails.

  1. Invest in a Powerful Magnet

Once you’ve disassembled all pallets and removed all the nails, the next step is the cleanup phase. Whether you’ve been working in a grassy spot, on concrete, or elsewhere, there will likely be at least a couple of stray nails on the ground. They can be hard to spot, but you’ll need to find them before they end up lodged in a tire or the sole of someone’s boot. Magnetic sweepers are invaluable for this. Get one featuring a powerful magnet and roll it over the area to pick up those stray nails.

Pallet deconstruction can prove useful when you’ve got a surplus of pallets. Although, if after looking through your options you decide to just keep and reuse them, you’ll need to take the time ensure they’re still in good shape. To help you with that task, the Crating SCRAIL® by BECK will prove useful. Crating SCRAIL® fasteners are a type of fastener ideal for building pallets and crates. They are stronger than nails, can be removed, and have a long lifespan. Plus, they’re available in a variety of sizes and drive types to suit your needs. To ensure installation accuracy, they are driven in with a pneumatic nailing tool available from FASCO®, a member of the BECK Group, as well as other pneumatic tools. Want to learn more? Download our product guide on the Crating SCRAIL® system!

Download Product Brochure: The Crating SCRAIL 

Topics: Crate Building, Scrail Fasteners, pallets

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